Our live Zoom Dives bring creative business experts together in conversation with our founder, Carolyn Dailey, to tackle some of the most urgent topics currently affecting entrepreneurs and freelancers as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

For this edition, we were joined by Kim Slade, founder of Touch Video Academy. Kim walked us through the key creative and technical aspects of producing great video content from a smartphone.

Discover Kim's top tips on how you can use video to bring your brand to life below, or you can listen to the discussion in full here.

The benefits of producing video content on a smartphone

  • You can shoot and edit your content all in one place, on one device
  • It's inexpensive
  • They're small, agile and easy to transport

3 secrets to producing quality video content on a budget

  • You don't need huge, elaborate productions to produce quality content
  • You can do a lot with just a smartphone, including filming, editing, adjusting the lighting - all from within the camera app
  • You don't need to have had film experience or training of any kind

3 key elements for creating great video content (in more detail below)

  • Stories & value
  • Sound & lighting
  • Quick & simple

Stories & value

Why tell stories?

  • Stories help you to structure and plan your content, which is beneficial for the viewer as well as yourself
  • It's much easier to retain information when it's delivered through storytelling rather than raw facts
  • Stories help people connect emotionally with your product, making them more likely to engage with your brand
  • They help viewers stay focussed and keep listening. If you only present facts, they will disengage much quicker.
  • They inspire action, making the viewer more likely to connect with the product, listen to what you're saying, respond and take action - whether by watching more of your content, visiting your website, getting in touch or making a purchase

How do you create a story?

  • Use the fairytale framework:
    1. Once upon a time – this is the context – what will you be telling the viewer?
    2. Suddenly – a challenge or hook – why should they listen to you? What problem/need will you be addressing?
    3. Luckily – the solution – how are you/your product providing them with a solution to overcome the problem?
    4. Happily ever after – the impact of the story, or a call to action – what can/should they do now that they have the information you've given them
  • This framework helps shape your story, and structure your video in a way that gives value to others

The importance of value

  • It's important to show that you're giving the viewer something through your video that will improve their life
  • Making videos should be about the viewer, not about you
  • It positions you as an expert
  • Leading with kindness and giving away information through video is well-received and appreciated by people
  • It helps people trust you, so they will be more likely to employ you or invest in your product/service
  • It stops the scroll! If you give them value in your video, they won’t scroll past you

Sound & Lighting

Why are sound & lighting important?

  • These are the two most important elements when filming budget videos, especially on a smartphone
  • They are a quick and easy way to help you increase the quality of your videos
  • Sound is the number one element overlooked by amateur video makers, and it really lets the quality down
  • Many people will watch videos with the sound off (eg on social media), but if they choose to invest in what you’re delivering, they'll switch the sound on, so it's important that sound doesn’t let you down
  • People are more likely to stop watching a video if the image quality is good but the sound is bad, rather than if the image quality is bad but the sound is good
  • Lighting is the number one way to improve the visual quality of your videos
  • A well-lit subject is much more engaging and easier to connect with
  • Better light will make you look better, which will give you more confidence and improve your delivery

3 tips to get great sound

  • Choose the best microphone for the job. The two main options for filming with a smartphone are:
  • Position your microphone properly. Get it as direct and close to the sound as possible so as to avoid distortion. Positioning = volume.
  • Test the sound with headphones. Headphones are better quality that phone speakers so you'll pick up on any faults more easily, and most people listen to videos  through headphones, so you'll get the most accurate impression of your viewers' experience
    • Attach the microphone and record a test piece to the camera using the voice you will use for your video
    • Unplug the microphone when you finish recording
    • Watch the test video back and listen to it on a normal volume. Listen out for clarity, high volume, and no distortion.

3 tips to get great lighting 

  • Look for the light. Where is it coming from? Where is the sun? Where are the windows/doors? Natural light is best when filming on a smartphone so always try to film in natural light.
  • Position the light behind the camera. Always face the light and have the camera facing away from light. This stops you from being in shadow, and the camera will be able to focus on you better. This is the same if you're using artificial lighting.
  • Don’t overexpose or underexpose. Make your shots  as bright as possible, but be careful not to lose any detail
    • On an iPhone in the camera app, before you start filming, touch the point on the screen where you want the camera to focus and hold your finger there
    • AE/AF Lock should appear, which will maintain the focus and lighting levels on that point while you're filming
    • Slide your finger up and down the screen to change the level of exposure and select how much light you allow in
    • The process is very similar on an Android

Quick & Simple

Why should videos be quick & simple?

  • They're easier for you to make
  • It's easier for people to watch and absorb your message if a video is quick and simple
  • People are more willing to watch something if it isn't time-consuming
  • People consume content quickly – and you want them to consume a lot of your content, especially when you’re building your audience
  • If you can show people the value of you're offering quickly, it'll tell them that you have more to offer, and they will then be more likely to watch a longer video to see what real value you can offer in the longer term
  • If videos are shorter, you can create more. It's important to generate lots of quality content regularly, especially when you're building your business, so the shorter they are, the more you can produce.
  • Quality and value are still key, but if you can produce multiple quick and simple videos, they will reach more viewers than one long one
  • People are more likely to take action when faced with something simple, so don't try and cram too much into your video
    • One action is easier for people to take than many
    • One lesson taught more is more likely to be retained

Four rules for producing quick & simple video content

  • The content must be helpful and create value for your audience. The value could be tips on how to do something, or it could be making them laugh
  • Focus on single concepts – one goal, one message per video. This is easier for viewers to absorb, especially if they're new to your brand.
  • Keep them short. Make them easy for busy people to view. If you can get your message across quickly, viewers will gain from them more easily, and so, in turn, will you
  • Produce often. Get video content out there regularly. If you’re seen to be posting frequently, even if your viewing figures aren't high to begin with, people will be more likely to work with you.

Confidence is the main barrier preventing people from making videos. To overcome this:

  • Just go for it. Get your first video done, share it with your friends and family and other trusted people to get you used to having people watching your content in a safe space. This will help build your confidence.
  • Talk to yourself on camera. Practice speaking to the camera. Talk to the camera daily as if you're making a digital journal. This should make you feel more comfortable and less awkward about speaking down a lens.

Above all, be authentic! People want to see real people being their real selves.